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Saturday, 4 November, 2000, 08:33 GMT
Stripping for a good cause
From left: Radio Humberside Uncovered; Real Essex Girls; and the WI
It all started with the Women's Institute. Then fishermen got in on the act. Now staff at a BBC radio station have stripped for a cheeky charity calendar.

Once upon a time, nudie calendars were strictly for salacious thrills.

But that all changed when 11 friends from the Women's Institute in Yorkshire threw off their aprons - and the rest of their garments - for a charity calendar.

WI calender
Naked ambition: The WI raised more than 330,000
Within hours of launching the calendar in April 1999, the women, aged between 44 and 65, were inundated with interview requests from home and abroad.

By dropping their drawers for charity, the self-promoting pin-ups raised the stakes for fellow fundraisers. Now it's de rigueur to get your kit off for a good cause.

And as the year draws to a close, a glut of cheeky charity calendars has hit the market.

Donors wishing to fund medical research can buy a calendar which plays on the slapper stereotype of Essex Girls, while a group of fishermen have grabbed their rods and tackle to raise money for testicular cancer.

Body for radio

On Monday, BBC Radio Humberside launched its own calendar to raise money for a children's hospice.

June calender image
The Codfather: The BBC's Mike Cartwright
A sneak preview has been posted on the station's website, with a particular buzz surrounding Mr June, aka senior producer Mike Cartwright.

Throwing caution to the wind - along with his winter woollies - Mr Cartwright posed with little more than a wide smile and a large fish to cover his, er, dignity.

Although he does not make a habit of roaming the Grimsby docks nude, Mr Cartwright decided that if he was going to volunteer for the project, he might as well go the whole hog.

"I said I would only do it on the docks in the company of a large carp - and that's exactly what happened."

He was one of just two staff members game enough to go starkers in a public place - the other avowed exhibitionist was reporter Tom Hepworth, who posed with a sound boom outside a chemical works.

Although Mr Cartwright says he did not need to draw inspiration from those who went before, "the Women's Institute certainly broke the ice".

Compassion fatigue

Since the calendar launched on Monday, sales have averaged about 200 a day - the target is to raise 20,000.

Essex Girls calendar
Essex Girls: Playing up the 'slappers in stilettos' stereotype
With so many good causes competing for donations, is a bit of slap-and-tickle the way to fight compassion fatigue?

"These days there's so much demand on people's pockets and their attention," Mr Cartwright says.

"Whether it's getting your kit off, or something else bizarre, it seems to take something a little out of the ordinary."

Maybe come next November, a naturists' club will put out a "fully clothed" calendar - for a good cause, of course.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Pin-up firemen cause offence
18 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Nude game show 'in good taste'
23 Jul 99 | UK
Different faces of nudism
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